MINNEAPOLIS — Kyle Gibson picked a bad time to have his shortest outing of the season.
"The team's relying on me to go out there and put up a couple zeros and give the team a chance to get a lead," Gibson said. "When you don't do that right off the bat after the first batter, it's pretty frustrating."
Minnesota fell 1 1/2 games behind Houston in the race for the second AL wild card. Los Angeles also trails the Astros by 1 1/2 games, and Baltimore is 3 1/2 back.
In addition, the loss by the Twins allowed Kansas City to clinch the AL Central championship with a 10-4 win over Seattle.
Gibson gave up six runs in 2 2-3 innings. Jason Kipnis hit a leadoff homer and Carlos Santana connected for a three-run shot to help the Indians boost their slim playoff chances.
Francisco Lindor had three hits for Cleveland, which is four games behind Houston in the wild-card chase with 11 to play.
Gibson ran into trouble three pitches into the game when Kipnis hit a drive to left field. Later in the first inning, Lonnie Chisenhall's two-out single scored two more runs to put Gibson behind 3-0 before the Twins even came to bat.
Given that Minnesota had a chance to get within a half-game of the second wild-card spot in the American League, Gibson's performance was especially disappointing.
"I don't know if the home run kind of got in his head a little bit," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Chisenhall's hit I thought was a big hit. Instead of one, it's three."
Following a clean second inning, Gibson again struggled in the third. He gave up another home run, this time a three-run shot to Santana.
Gibson stayed in the game after falling behind 6-0 but was relieved by Brian Duensing after issuing a two-out walk to Abraham Almonte.
It was Gibson's shortest start since July 4, 2014. His briefest outing this year prior to Thursday was his season debut in which he went 3 2-3 innings in a loss to Detroit.
Minnesota's bullpen picked up Gibson after his quick exit. Six Twins relievers combined to pitch 6 1-3 scoreless innings.
The Twins had two on and none out in the bottom of the first, but couldn't score. Almonte threw out Aaron Hicks at the plate for the second out.
Minnesota finally got on the board in the seventh inning on a solo home run from Torii Hunter, his 22nd of the season. Eddie Rosario launched a two-run shot in the eighth to cut it to 6-3.
By then, though, the early deficit was too much for the Twins to overcome as they finished 4-6 on their homestand.
"You'd like to win every game this time of year," first baseman Joe Mauer said. "You try to step back and look at things. We won the series, which is good, but we've got to look forward to tomorrow and try to get another win."
Mauer was 0 for 3 but walked in the eighth to establish a franchise record by reaching base safely in 43 straight games, surpassing the mark set by Bob Allison in 1961. It's the third-longest streak in the majors this season behind Matt Holliday of St. Louis (45) and Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion (44).
Indians: LF Michael Brantley missed his second straight game after jamming his right shoulder trying to make a play Tuesday. He did hit in the batting cage, though. "He's getting closer," said manager Terry Francona, adding it might be "pushing it" for Brantley to play Friday.
Twins: Molitor said it might take "some unusual circumstances" to get RHP Ricky Nolasco into a game. Nolasco last pitched May 31 and had surgery on his right ankle July 13. He could be activated from the 60-day disabled list as soon as Friday. ... Molitor doesn't think LHP Tommy Milone, who missed a start earlier this week with shoulder fatigue, is "imminently ready to return."
Indians: Cleveland opens a three-game series Friday at AL Central champion Kansas City with Carlos Carrasco (13-11, 3.62 ERA) scheduled to pitch against Edinson Volquez (13-8, 3.62). In 14 road starts, Carrasco has allowed an AL-low .191 batting average.
Twins: Mike Pelfrey (6-10, 4.16) starts Friday when Minnesota begins a seven-game road trip in Detroit. Pelfrey, who is 1-2 with a 4.19 ERA in three starts against the Tigers this season, faces Matt Boyd (1-3, 6.21).